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FKA Twigs | Magdalene

The British artist delivers a sonically striking breakup disc for her sophomore outing.

WHO IS SHE? The British artist formerly known as Tahliah Barnett, who also went by the handle Twigs until a similarly named pop group complained — though she has since claimed she just liked the sound of the letters when she was trying to come up with her stage name and they don’t really mean anything. Right.

WHAT IS THIS? Her long-awaited and sonically striking sophomore album, which arrives five years after her rapturously acclaimed debut LP1 (and two weeks after its initial Oct. 25 release date).

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Björk for the new millennium. While her first album was seen as alt-R&B — a term she took umbrage with — nobody will make that mistake with this release. The nine-song Magdalene — apparently a breakup disc following her split with Robert Pattinson — eschews musical norms in favour of a fever-dream collision of electronics, noise, synths and ethereally soaring falsetto vocals reminiscent of Kate Bush and Enya sucking helium. Easy listening it is not — though it clearly and boldly reflects the “ungraceful, confused and fractured” mental state” she endured.


HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? While wearing avant-garde designer clothes, sitting on avant-garde designer furniture and taking avant-garde designer drugs.

WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Nocturnal, exploratory, artistic, intimate, wounded, challenging, cerebral, esoteric, atmospheric, otherworldly.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? Holy Terrain, which features contributions from Future, Jack Antonoff, Skrillex and Sounwave, is the disc’s most approachable cut by a long shot. Other tracks like Thousand Eyes, Mary Magdalene, Fallen Alien and Cellophane have their moments, but can sometimes feel like a battle between style and substance.

WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS SAY? ‘This isn’t just Art with a capital A, it’s got a capital R and T as well. For better or worse.’

HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? Well, it’s unlikely to get heavy rotation on your party playlist, but when you want to hear something several levels about your average pop-chart fluffery, this certainly fits the bill.

IF THIS ALBUM WERE A LIVING THING, WHAT WOULD IT BE? A being from another dimension.

SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? Stream it first to see if Twigs grows on you.